Capote vs The Swans Feature

Feud: Capote vs. the Swans, the second season of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series on Hulu, focuses on the downfall of Truman Capote. The show features an all-star cast, including Naomi WattsDemi Moore and Diane Lane, who are all based on New York socialites from the ‘60s and ‘70s. But, is Capote vs. the Swans a true story?

Is ​’Capote vs. the Swans’ a True Story?

Capote vs. the Swans is based on a true story. Ryan and director Gus Van Sant took much of the material from Laurence Leamer’s book Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era and used it to create the Hulu series.

What Is ‘Capote vs. The Swans’ About?

Capote vs. The Swans follows the story of Truman Capote, the acclaimed writer behind Breakfast at Tiffany’s, who surrounded himself with some of New York’s wealthiest people. However, Truman eventually fell on hard times and turned to drugs and alcohol, and his desperation led to him using his friends’ lives for his own fodder.

Lee Radziwill and Truman Capote at the Emmy Awards in 1967
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

While these women believed Truman to be a friend and confidante, he betrayed their trust by exposing their secrets, including affairs and even an alleged murder, in a 1975 article he wrote for Esquire titled “La Côte Basque 1965.” The author didn’t specifically name any of the women, but the article contained enough details that members of New York society were able to piece the puzzle together. The piece led to Truman’s downfall and his eventual exile from high society.

Who Are the Women in ‘Capote vs. The Swans’ Based On?

Truman refers to Babe Paley, played by Naomi, as his “number one swan,” and Babe was a real New York socialite. However, Capote vs. The Swans changes a few details around the timeline of Truman and Babe’s friendship. In the series, Babe is alive to witness the release of Truman’s article, but in reality, she died in 1974 from lung cancer, a year before the piece was published.

Demi plays Ann Woodward, the character that prompts the women into action in Capote Vs. The Swans. In the series, Truman starts a rumor that Ann shot her husband and killed him after mistaking him for a burglar. Truman repeats this in his article, and after Ann receives an advance copy of the piece, she commits suicide.

In reality, Ann was tried for the murder of her husband after a string of burglaries in her neighborhood allegedly caused her to mistake him for a burglar, but she was exonerated. While she did commit suicide, there was no evidence that her death was related to Truman’s article.

Other key players include socialites Slim Keith (Diane Lane,) C.Z. Guest (Chloë Sevigny) and Lee Radziwill (Calista Flockhart). In the show, Slim leads the charge against Truman, but even though she was featured prominently in “La Côte Basque 1965,” there’s no evidence that she did so in real life. C.Z. doesn’t completely cut ties with Truman, and she didn’t in reality either. Lee doesn’t cut Truman off in the series either, but a few years after the article’s publication, she did when she refused to testify on his behalf in a libel case.

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